Last weekend, scores of Northern California university students hit the road for Reno, NV to canvass for Sen. Obama and assist with a last-minute voter registration drive. (Oct. 4th was the deadline in Nevada.)
I’ve heard a lot about his ground game in key battleground states. I’ve read about his campaign’s work in Iowa, witnessed him breaking virtually all fundraising records, and watched him opened up field offices left and right in traditionally red states. I had high expectations—and I was not disappointed.
I ended up leaving Friday night, with a bunch of Berkeley folks I’ve never met before in my life. I suppose it’s only appropriate, as it kind of encapsulates what his campaign stands for: people from all walks of life putting their differences aside and coming together to promote a common purpose.
That sentiment was reaffirmed the next day, as we joined a crew of over 1,000 volunteers that were there to help out that weekend. Now, I’ve done a lot of volunteer work throughout the years for various causes, but I’ve never witnessed anything matching the scale or energy of this crowd.
It’s something you really have to see to believe, because regardless of how many stories and personal accounts you read, you just won’t be able to understand how incredible the experience is. Granted, you need to be passionate about the cause and about volunteer work to see where I’m coming from, but I should also mention that I used to be a very reserved person. I used to resent having to talk to strangers, to the point that I would hate making phone calls to people I didn’t know.
I spent all of Saturday talking to and registering voters from all parts of Reno, and I loved every minute of it. Regardless of who they supported, the residents were, for the most part, very respectful and gracious of our efforts. We met former Reagan supporters that are now leaning Obama, progressives that have actually met the candidate himself, independents who are on the fence, and Republicans that respectfully disagree with our political beliefs. That we were well-received in a red county and managed to have level-headed conversations with most folks gives me a sense of – dare I say – hope that regardless of the outcome, we’re all still willing to work together for a better tomorrow.
Oh, and my statement about Washoe County being red? The GOP advantage was roughly 2,000 voters at the end of September. You can thank us for cutting that in half last weekend, if not eliminating it altogether. :)